We were meeting a lot of people in Tagaytay. Hindi pa naman sila nakakadecide na dito na talaga sa Tagaytay, but I just want to get the contact numbers of these people para naman mabilis and easy yung pagcontact if ever they decide to.
“Break kaya muna tayo?” Sabi ni Ralph.
“Alam mo na. Maglibot-libot muna. Nakakapagod eh. Wala naman akong alam tungkol sa mga ganitong bagay. Tapos bukas, dadating din naman dito si Cath. So, for sure, the real deal happens tomorrow. Diba?” He smiled.
“I-I’m not really sure.”
“Tara na..” Kinuha niya yung cellphone niya and turned it off. “Cellphone mo?”
Nabigla ako. “Ah-Uh, hindi pwede.”
“Hindi pwede! Maraming tumatawag sa cellphone ko, di gaya mo, si Cath lang.”
“Kaya nga eh. Akin na kasi..” Kinuha niya yung cellphone sa kamay ko, turned it off and nilagay sa bulsa niya. “Good. Tara.” He walked to his car and I hesitantly followed. Nilagay niya yung cellphones sa bag niya.
“Wala lang. Sabi mo rin kasi diba, masyado kang busy? Malay mo, makakita ka pa ng boyfriend dito.” He winked at tumawa. “San tayo? Hmm, aren’t you hungry?”
“Ano ba.. wag ka ngang ganyan. Para kang iba eh.” Napatingin lang ako kay Ralph. Huminga ako ng malalim at napangiti.
“Tara, punta tayo sa mga tiangge! Gusto kong bumili ng mga souvenirs.” Sabi ko.
“Kain muna tayo..”
“Pwede din. Aya’s ulet!”
“21st street! Isaw tayo, sige na, Raphhhyy!”
“Isaw na naman? Pwede bang sisig naman?”
“Eh gusto ko ng isaw eh..” *pout*
“Oo na. Isaw na po.”
“Nakuha mo na naman ako sa pout pout mo eh.”
“Ang cute talaga ng bebe ko..”
“Hmm, bago naman pwede?”
“Sige sige. Ikaw yung pumili, tapos susundin ko.”
“Ayos! Sige, dalawang sisig, dalawang rice, 2 cokes, 3 siomais then dalawang atsara.”
“Sinong kakain niyan?”
“Ano ka?! Masisira ang diet ko.”
“Walang diet! Dati naman, wala ka namang diet, tapos kain ka ng kain, di ka naman tumaba ah.”
“Just this once, Yel. Okay?” He sounded so serious.
“Ugh. Fine.” >.<
“Wait~ Is this… Ralph?!” Napatingin kaming dalawa sa gilid namin. O_O Amanda! “Ohmygosh~ I thought you two broke up! I can’t believe it.. kayo parin hanggang ngayon. True love nga naman..”
“Yeah, kumusta na Mands?” Sabi ni Ralph. “Sino kasama mo?” I glared at Ralph and he just smiled at me.
“Well, I’m here with my husband. Hunny, lapit ka dito. This is Dexter. These are Ralph and Mariel. Remember? Yung sinasabi kong sikat na wedding coordinator?”
“Oh yeah, hi, nice meeting you guys.”
“Same here, pare.”
“Nice meeting you.”
“Nako, hunn. Alam mo ba, since college pa itong dalawa. Ang sweet talaga.” Napatingin ako kay Ralph. He was really smiling and all. “Kailan ba kayo magpapakasal, ha?”
“Hahha. Hinihintay ko nalang si Mariel.” He said. I kicked his leg. “Diba, Yel?”
“Hay nako, bilisan niyo na. Mahirap magkaanak pag 30 na kayo. Okay? Sige, mauna na kami. It’s really nice seeing you together. Bye bye. Mariel, give me your phone number pala..”
“Ahh, okay. 0917XXXXXXXX.”
“Sige sige. I’ll give you a ring in awhile. Ingat. Bye bye.”
Nang nakalabas na ng restaurant si Amanda, I looked at him angrily.
“Why did you do that?!”
“Chill. She’s so into true love. I didn’t want to burst her bubble.”
“Ah ganun, eh kung ikaw iburst ko, ha?!”
Bigla namang dumating yung pagkain. “Huwaaa, ubusin mo ha?”
O_O “Ang sama mo.”
Hindi na kami kaagad nagkwentuhan. We were so hungry that we didn’t mind each other. Ang takaw ko nga naman. Naubos ko!
“Sabi ko na nga ba eh. Matakaw pa din.”
“Don’t start on me. I tend to vomit when I’m full. Baka sumuka ako sa iyo.”
“Woah. Okay, I’ll behave.” Then he signed for the chit. I opened my bag and looked for my wallet. “Op, don’t worry. I got this.” He smiled.
“But- I wanna share..”
“Diba sabi ko dati sa iyo, pag may pera na ako, you don’t have to share na?”
“Thank you.” Sabi ko at tumahimik na.
Nung lumabas na kami ng restaurant, naglakad-lakad pa kami sandali.
“What if, what if transfer tayo ng accomodations?”
“Amboring naman kasi dun sa room. Maliit pa. Diba ayaw mo?”
“Fully booked tayo dito ngayon so wala-”
“Wait, asan na ba yung cellphone ko?”
“Nasa bag mo.”
“Ay, tara, balik tayo sa kotse.”
“I need to make a call!” Sabi niya habang naglalakad ng mabilis papunta sa parking lot.
“I need my phone!”
Pumasok kami sa kotse and he took the phone from his bag and dialed some digits.
“Uy, pare.. oo.. andito ako sa Tagaytay.. oo.. magpapakasal na ako e.. hahaha.. eh dito yung venue.. ayun nga eh.. wala.. kaya sana kung pwede.. oh talaga?.. ayos! hanep, ang gwapo mo.. hahaha.. sige sige.. oo kabisado ko pa yun.. andun pa si Manang Linda? Sige, kausapin ko nalang.. salamat bro ah.”
And he turned off his phone again.
“Patrick? As in Patrick Lim?”
“Huwag mong sabihin sa..”
“Ayos ka lang?! No way. I’m gonna stay in that pension house. Kung gusto mo dun, ayos lang. Basta ako stay put.”
“Bakit ba ayaw mo?”
“Retarded ka talaga. Ayoko! Ayoko, ayoko, ayoko. Hindi ka ba natatakot kay Kath?”
“Bakit? I’m not having affairs naman.”
“Hindi sa ganun. Alam mo yun. Kasi ako guilty ako to think of di niya alam yung relasyon natin dati. Kaya sana naman..”
“Look. What we had was in the past. Wala na yun.”
“Come on. We’re not doing anything. I’m not doing anything to you.”
You have no idea. 3 years.. and you mess it all up.
Pumunta kami ng pension house to get our stuffs. He paid the accommodation. He drove to Patrick’s rest house na overlooking yung Taal. We went there for holy week when we were in college.
“Hello sa inyo..” Si Manang Linda, yung caretaker ng rest house.
“Si Ralph po ito. Kaibigan ni Patrick.”
“Pasok kayo. Tumawag na kanina dito si Bunso. Pasabi papunta daw kayo dito. Inayos ko na yung mga kwarto. Pero wala pang pagkain diyan. Medyo malayo tayo sa poblacion kaya kayo na ang bahala.”
“Bakit manang? Hindi na ba kayo dito nakatira?”
“Nag-asawa na ako.. kaya dun na ako nakatira sa bahay nila. Bumibisita nalang ako dito araw-araw para magcheck at maglinis.”
“Ahh, kaya pala. Sige manang, kami na ang bahala dito.” Sabi ni Ralph.
“Sige sige. Mauuna na ako.”
At umalis si Manang. “Grocery nalang tayo mamaya. O diba, ayos to?”
Pumunta ako ng veranda at tiningnan ang view.
He hugged me from the back and gave a peck on my neck.
“Sana lagi tayong ganito..”
“Eh hindi na tayo makakagalaw niyan..” Hahaha.
“Ayos lang, basta magkasama tayo..”
“Kasi naman ang lamig-lamig..”
“May bakanteng lupa doon sa kabilang kanto. For sale daw yun. Bilhin natin?”
“Ano ka ba.. mabibili na yun by the time nakaipon na tayo.” Sabi ko sa kanya.
“Papatayo natin yung dreamhouse mo..”
“Talaga?” I looked at him and smiled.
“Walang pinagbago..” Sabi ko sa sarili ko.
“Oo nga noh.” He stood beside me.
“Nga pala, dun ako sa may malaking bathroom.”
“Oo, nilagay ko na dun gamit mo. Nga pala, grocery tayo mamaya.”
3pm na iyon when we drove back to the downtown.. bigla nalang akong may nakitang bahay sa kanto dati na kung saan may bakanteng lote.
Hininto niya naman yung sasakyan.
Inatras niya yung kotse and I looked through the window.
“Sabi na nga ba.. bibilhin kaagad eh.” I whispered. Bumaba kaagd ako looked at the house.
Parehong-pareho sa dream house ko. Ang swerte naman ng may-ari. Ang ganda ng lote, ang ganda pa ng bahay.
“Eto yun diba?”
“Ang alin?” I asked.
“Yung bakanteng lote dati?”
“May nakabili na pala..”
“Bakit, may plano ka pang bilhin?”
“Sana.. bahay-bakasyunan namin ni Kath. Pero di niya gusto ang style ng bahay. It’s more.. you.”
“It’s exactly my dream house. Kita mo? Yung windows.. yung style.. yung wood.. It’s.. it’s the same.. and.. ang swerte-swerte ng may-ari nito.. o kung may asawa man siya…” I shook my head and went back to the car.
“Sana kasi binili mo na kaagad.” Sabi niya sakin. Natahimik lang ako.
After ng grocery.. he turned on our phones already. Ang daming text messages received from Kath. And then my phone rang.
“What happened to you?”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t notice nawalan nako ng battery.”
“NO WAY! It doesnt happen to you. Tawag ng tawag dito si Kath.. baka kung ano na nangyari sa inyo.”
“I’ll call her now to tell her you guys are doing fine. Yel, ikakasal na iyan.”
And then his phone rang. Kathleen.
“Yeah.. I don’t know. I left my phone. Sorry. I didn’t notice. I was thinking also that Mariel has a phone so you would contact her if hindi mo ako makontak. Yeah.. But her phone went out of battery.. I’m sorry babe.. Yeah, I’m okay.. uhuh.. ikaw din, take care..” He looked at me and looked at the other way. “I love you too.”
“They will be here bukas.”
Pagdating ng bahay, I sat down at the couch and looked at the ceiling.
“Sino ang magluluto?”
“Syempre ikaw.” Sabi ko.
“Di ka parin ba marunong?”
“Marunong na no.. nakakatamad lang.”
“Di ka ba nagluluto sa bahay niyo?”
“Masyado akong busy. Either I eat out or order foods. Minsan, Mom will bring some cooked foods din.”
“Then di ka naman busy ngayon, go ahead. Take control of the kitchen.”
Napatingin ako sa kanya. “No no no. I won’t cook food for you.”
“Para rin naman sa iyo iyan eh.”
So I stood up, and started preparing food. Chicken curry. Bumili ng curry powder eh, so I assume baka gusto niya ng chicken curry.
“Improvement.. level up.” Sabi niya habang kumakain.
“I know right. Kala mo kasi di ako marunong.”
“Kath doesn’t know how to cook. So I cook the foods.”
“Bukas… back to basic na tayo.” Bigla niyang sinabi habang nakatingin sakin.
Back to basic.. back to reality.
Maaga pa kaming nagising. We went to Tagaytay Highlands to meet with Cath and Clara. Cath was so happy to see Ralph again. We had breakfast and back to work na kaagad. So we had to do things all over again kasi nga si Ralph, walang silbi. Parang nagbakasyon lang kami sa two days na iyon.
“Actually, approval nalang iyong kailangan.” I said and smiled.
So we went to the venue, and Clara drew the layout of everything.. like the altar, the seats.. the red carpet.. everything. Ako naman yung nag bebrain storm kung ano yung gusto ng dalawa.
“Alam mo.. hindi mo naman kailangang ihands-on to e. There are bigger weddings awaiting at the shop.” Clara whispered.
“I know. But it’s the least that I can do after breaking his heart three years ago.” I smiled at her.
Nagkibit-balikat lang si Clara. “Okay, okay.”
Tinawag naman ako ni Kath. “What do you think? I like white and yellow.” Nabigla ako. But that’s my.. that’s what I like too.
“White and yellow?” I asked again. Ralph turned around and looked at Kath.
“Are you sure about that?”
“Yeah. Ayaw mo?”
“No, no. It’s okay with me.” He grinned.
“White and yellow.” Inulit ni Kath sakin.
“O-Okay.” I turned around at Clara. “White and yellow, it is.”
“Oh right. I want the altar to face this way.. and the seats are like.. parang amphitheater na style. Just a simple wedding. I just want lots of flowers. Tapos since it’ll start on around.. 5pm.. tama lang naman siguro yun no? Pag set ng sun?”
“Yeah.. sometimes we can start at 5:30.. ganun ganun.” Clara answered.
“Okay. Hmm.. and also.. like lamps.. yung parang old themed lamps. Parang native..”
As Clara was taking down notes, I realized what Kath had in mind.
“What do you want babe, tulips or roses?” Kath asked Ralph.
“Hmm.. ewan ko. Ikaw ba?”
“I can’t decide e.”
“Then ask Mariel.”
“Right. Yel, what do you think?”
I chuckled. “Hmm you should be the one decide..”
“Come on.. you’re my wedding planner. Help me with this.”
“I-I like the tulips.”
“Tulips it is.”
“Hm.. you know.. you can choose others. Like Marigold or..”
“But I like it..”
We walked further.
“What do you think Yel?” Ralph asked.
“About the setup.”
“Kailangan ba talaga ang opinyon ko?”
“O-Okay. Hm.. what I think is..”
And so on and so forth. Pakiramdam ko ako na ang nagplano ng lahat. Ano ba, wedding ko ba to? Around 4pm, we drove back to Manila and dumiretso na ako sa bahay. Si Clara naman nagpaiwan sa shop to check things out. Sobrang napagod ako e.
3 weeks nalang, magiging okay na ulit ang lahat. Sobrang bilis ng mga araw. Order dito, order doon. We made Kath’s gown and ako din yung pinapili niya. We tried hair and makeup narin. Everything’s going well. Ralph and I would always meet up and plan things out since Kath is busy interacting with her relatives. So si Ralph yung pinapapunta nya sakin.
“Perfect na ba?” He asked.
“Yeah, sobrang perfect.” I smiled.
“I wanna ask something.” He said while we were drinking coffee.
He was staring at nowhere, half-amused. “Do you enjoy seeing your clients getting married?”
I paused. “Do I enjoy seeing my clients get married and I ain’t married yet? That’s what you really wanna ask.”
He chuckled. “Y-yeah.”
“It’s fine with me. I mean, no hard feelings. I turned down a marriage three years ago.. and.. I’m doing great at dealing with this. It’s not like I ain’t married because you ran away or anything. It’s a choice. And I’m happy.”
“Then bless me.”
I laughed. “I bless you.” Tumawa rin naman si Ralph.
“Bakit ka ba sama ng sama sa kanya? Alam mo bang makakasira iyan sa inyo ni Kath? Ikakasal ka na.. tigilan mo na iyan, Ralph!”
“Ma.. she’s our wedding planner. It’s no big deal.”
“Anong no big deal!? Ex mo iyan. Ex mo, Ralph. Ang masama pa, hindi ito alam ni Kath tapos sama ka pa ng sama diyan sa babaeng iyan.”
“Hindi mo ako naiintindihan. Wedding planner siya Ma. Pag wala si Kath, ako yung pinapadala ni Kath para makipagmeet kay Mariel. That’s that. Past is past. Tatlong taon na yun.”
“Ah basta! Umiwas ka nalang sa issue.”
I sighed. “Issue?”
“Malamang tatlong taon na yun, Ralph. Pero nakalimot ka na nga ba?”
“Bakit? Something wrong?”
“No. I was reviewing this kasi kagabi and I realized.. it’s the same.” She took the folder of Kath’s wedding and my dream wedding.
Napatawa ako. “Parehong-pareho.” Pinigilan ko yung luhang gustong kumawala. “Si Ralph pa. Alam na alam niya lahat e.”
“Hindi naman siguro. Malamang, pareho lang talaga kami ng taste ni Kath.” Inayos ko yung mga gamit sa desk at niligpit ko yung folders ng mga weddings. “Tama na iyan. Siguro ikaw nalang muna humandle ng wedding nila. Naloloka ako.” I smiled at her.
“Okay.” She smiled back. Lumabas ako ng shop to drive around and get coffee. Hindi ko alam kung pano ako nakaabot ng boulevard. So I parked there and just sat at the stone walls.
My tears started to fall one by one. “Pano na to.. ako yung naiwan? Ako yung nang-iwan pero ako pa yung naiwan. Ikakasal na siya. Tapos.. tapos.. yung wedding pareho pa nung dream wedding ko. Ayos lang naman sana eh, kung iba yung groom. Kaso siya pa. Siya pa talaga ha..” I wiped my tears and forced a smile. “How dare you! How dare you get wed before me?!”
I looked at my phone and sniffed. “Hello?… no, I’m okay.. *sniff*.. yeah.. just having coffee.. *sniff*..no, I’m really okay.. uhh.. if you have questions regarding your wedding.. I forwarded it to Clara na. You can just call her up to ask things.. *sniff* … no, I’m.. I’m busy. Bye.” I hanged up my phone and just looked at the screen.
Huminga ako ng malalim. “He’s getting married. He’s getting married. He’s getting married.” I keep on repeating to myself.
Weeks passed. Ralph doesn’t call me anymore kasi lahat ng calls niya, nadadivert na kay Clara. Also, Kathleen. Sabi naman ni Clara sa kanila, I’ll be on a vacation so medyo busy din ako sa ibang pahabol na events before taking my vacation.
“Ralph told me that he needed to talk to you. Come on, talk to him — as a client.” I looked at Clara and she just rolled her eyes. I just kept silent.
“Ralph, clean up your room na. Throw things na di mo na kailangan.”
“Syempre. You’ll be staying na sa US. Ibibigay ko na itong room mo kay Pachuchay!”
“Oo nga naman, Kuya. Akin na to. Marami na akong plans for this room e.”
“Ikaw talaga! Di pa nga ako nakakaalis, nililigawan mo na kwarto ko.”
Yung nanay ko, nangliligpit na ng mga bagay-bagay. Yung mga ferrari collection ko, nailigpit na sa box. Itatago na raw kasi magmamature na ako. Tapos, may bigla siyang kinuhang box.
“Iwan mo nalang iyan.”
She looked at the box. “You should throw this na.”
“Yeah, I will. Pero diba mas maganda kung ako mismo yung tatapon?” I looked at her.
She rolled her eyes. “O, siguraduhin mong itatapon mo ha.”
I locked my room at binuhat ko yung box papunta sa bed. Huminga ako ng malalim. I looked at the box.
“Three years na rin pala.”
Dahan-dahan kong binuksan yung box na yun. And when I did, hindi ko alam. Parang binalot ng kalungkutan at kirot yung puso ko.
“Bakit kasi hindi nalang ikaw?”
Lahat ng binigay ko at binigay niya sakin, nasa box na ito. Lahat-lahat.
“Wag mo tong ipamigay sa iba ha? Pag may bago kang girlfriend, wag mo tong ibigay ha?” Umiiyak pa siya nun.
“Ayoko.. siguro, hindi ko kayang makita itong mga bagay na to na nasa kamay ng iba..”
“A-ano gagawin ko dito?” Umiiyak na kaming dalawa.
“Ewan ko.. itapon mo. Sunugin mo. Basta wag mo lang ibigay sa iba.”
“Kaya ko ba yun?”
“Oo naman.. kaya mo yun pag may bago kana..”
“T-talaga lang ha? P-pano kung pagkatapos ng mga ilang taon, ikaw parin? Pwede ko bang ibalik lahat to?”
“Okay. Itatago ko to.”
Ibabalik ko ba?
“Clar, meron ka bang appointment mamayang hapon?”
“Oo, rehearsal nina Ralph. TAYONG dalawa ang may appointment mamayang hapon.”
“Talaga?! Rehearsal na?! Anong oras?”
“4pm. Ang bilis lang diba?”
“Sobra.” Napatingin lang ako sa kawalan. Ikakasal na talaga siya.
“I’ll try. May pupuntahan kami ni mommy e.”
“I thought, professional tayo dito?”
“Oo nga. But I can’t.”
“Come on. Wag ka ngang ganyan. You have to make yourself untog or SEE para marealize mo that you have to let go na talaga. This time for real na no!”
“I have I have ka diyan! You’ve been living your life for three years.. busy dito busy doon. Have you really thought about that? Syempre kala mo naka move on kana.. pano workaholic ka. Pero really? Ask yourself kaya. AS IN!”
“Clara naman e.”
“Ah basta. You have to go. Nagtatampo na si Kath sa iyo.”
3:30 pm, Tagaytay
“Clar.. is — she — here?”
“Malamang parating na yun.”
“Sure ka ba?”
“Oo, bakit sir?”
“Oh, here she comes!”
“Goodness, nakaabot pa ako.”
“He asked about you.”
“I don’t know.” She walked away.
“Hi, Yel!” Kathleen’s voice was all over the place. “I’m glad you could come.”
“Yeah.” I smiled.
“So I’m gonna walk from there to…. there?”
“Yeah.. and you have to stand straightly. Also.. smile.”
“EVERYONE COMPLETE?! START NA TAYO!” Clara shouted. *CLAP *CLAP *CLAP
“Okay, just tell me if everything’s not perfect yet.”
“Yeah, I will.” I said.
“Uhh, hi.” I smiled to Ralph. Then he ran off to the grounds.
I looked from afar. Hindi ko mapigilang hindi mapaluha. I can see him smiling. They looked so soo happy.
Everything right here.. is and was mine. The gown.. the flowers.. the set-up.. the visitors.. the groom. They all used to be mine. I chuckled at the view and the thought. I wiped my tears and walked nearer to everyone.
As I was walking down the aisle.. I was imagining things. I was imagining myself in that white lovely wedding dress.. with my dad and mom walking me down the aisle to the man I love so much. With friends smiling and music everywhere. And my groom at the far end of this ground.. perfe-
And then it struck me. Ralph wasn’t looking at me like how I imagined him to be. He was looking at something else.. at someone else.
I followed his gaze …. Mariel.
But no, she’s our wedding planner. Ralph and I will be married in a couple of days – in two – perhaps. And we’re gonna push through.
“It was perfect.” I said before climbing up my car and driving back to the metro. They had dinner but I skipped. Dumiretso na ako sa condo. Niligpit yung dapat iligpit.
Awhile ago, I just witnessed and finally realized that the man I was dreaming to get married to for the past seven years is finally gonna wed somebody.. somebody.. somebody. It’s not me, okay? It’s not me.
And worse of all, they took my dream wedding. Everything in it! Everything. And I’m not the one who’d walk down the aisle. NOT ME.
I lie down on my bed and just covered my face with a pillow. Ang sakit-sakit.
“I was doing fine.. I really was.. bakit kailangan pang bumalik? Bakit…” Iyak ako ng iyak. Diba sabi ko move on na nga ako, pero bakit ako iyak ng iyak. Nakakainis!!
When I finally calmed down, I opened my drawer. “Pano ka makakamove on, eh you always look at his photo before you sleep?” I smiled and cried at the same time. “Sabi ko naman diba, I’ll be fine? Sana pala pinakasalan na kita dati pa. Sana pala tinuloy nalang yun.” 😥
“Kailangang ibalik to.”
Two more days to go. Busy-busyhan na kami sa shop kasi nga may event. Fortunately, eto lang yung event this week, so medyo nakakapagconcentrate talaga kami. Clara handles their wedding na. I’m glad that I don’t get to talk with Ralph these past few weeks, baka ano pa sabihin ko sa kanya at maging home-wrecker ako.
I keep on looking on their wedding folder. Iniscan ko bawat page. Gusto ko talaga magsink-in sa isipan ko that he’s really getting married.. and to someone else. Gusto ko talagang matauhan ako at marealize ko na wala na talaga – that I should also move on and get a life of my own. After all, I’m 26 and it’s time to settle down.
“Sige, look at it carefully. Ifeel mo talaga iyan..” Clara said teasingly.
“You’re back!” I closed the folder and put it at the right side of my desk. “How’s everything? All set?”
“Yung clients mo hinahanap ka.” “Mamaya pala, I’ll go back to see them again, kasi may pinapahanap na coins si Kath. Do you wanna go?”
Napaisip ako sandali. “Noo, I have things to do.”
“Hay naku. Di maka get over!” Sabi ni Clara at lumabas ng opisina.
“Kaloka to. Stressed out, malamang.”
I checked out the gowns na ready na for upcoming weddings. Then I saw the wedding gown of Kath’s. I looked at it and examined it carefully.
“Well, if I can’t marry you, then at least, I want your wedding to be perfect.”
Around 3pm, my phone rang.
“Mariel! I can’t meet up with Kath and Ralph. Nag-eeLBM ako ngayon.”
“Eh nasan ka?”
“Andito ako sa condo. Ikaw nalang muna.”
“Kumaen kami ni Gladys ng baked oyster kanina for lunch. Tapos na LBM ako. Sorry na. Ikaw na muna.”
“Talaga lang ha?”
“Oo nga. Sorry na. Go na dun!”
“Sesentahin na talaga kita.” I laughed.
So I fixed my things, got my bag and the folder and drove to City Lunch restaurant. When I arrived, there was only RALPH, walang KATH. Leche, set-up ata nito ni Clara ah. Matuluyan sana yun sa LBM niya. GRRRR.
“Hi, good afternoon.” We shook hands. “Clara was having bad indigestion, so ako nalang muna.”
“Finally, we got to talk. Kasi dati ka pa hinahanap ni Kath but Clara said you were busy.”
“Yeah, I’m about to take a vacation kasi, so medyo may mga hinahabol na sched.” “Anyways, Clara was talking about coins..”
“Yeah, Kath wanted gold coins kasi. Yung mahanap lang namin is silver.”
“Oh, okay. Uhmm.. I cannot promise to find you gold ones, but we will try. If I won’t be able to get it, my mom has gold coins naman. We can use it nalang, then I’ll give you the gold ones after awhile. Kasi its hard to find na these coins at this short amount of period.”
“That’s why nga eh. I told her that we should settle for silver, pero gold talaga yung gusto.”
“Well, you have to give her what she wants. Once in a lifetime lang naman yung wedding eh.” I smiled.
“Yeah, I know.” Then he stared at me.
I stared at him back. 5 seconds. 5..4..3..2..1. And boom, I looked away.
“Hmm, is that all? I could forward this to Clara so she can take a look at it again.”
“So, how’ve you been?” He suddenly asked.
Bigla naman akong napatingin sa kanya. “What?”
“I mean.. how are you taking it? This wedding.. is exactly like yours.. and-”
“It’s okay.” sabi ko. “I-I don’t mind it.. not at all.” Ngumiti kaagad ako sa kanya and sipped on my coffee. Ralph stared at me for quite awhile.
“Okay.” Huminga siya ng malalim. “So when are you planning to settle down? Naunahan na kita o.” He teased.
“Well.. settle down.. maybe.. I don’t know..” Nagkibit balikat ako. “Few months from now? Few years? I don’t know. I’m not sure. If I find someone worth it all.” Ngumiti ako sa kanya.
“Well, then, good luck.” He smiled. “I guess there’s no stopping tomorrow.”
“I bet your mom’s very proud of you..”
“Well, she likes Kathleen a lot. You know, being a nurse and all.”
“Yeah, I thought so.. too. Well, hitting two birds with one stone. You find the love of your life.. and your mom approves of her. That’s just really great.”
“But even if my mom won’t like her, i’d still fight for her. I’d still choose her.”
I froze. Napatingin lang ako sa kape ko. Napalunok ako and fixed my things.
“Well, if there’s nothing more, I’ll get going.”
I opened my wallet and “.. No, I got this.” He took the check and just paid the bills. Ni hindi na ako nakailing pa.
“Thanks.” I smiled and tumayo na kaagad. “I’ll just forward this to Clara.” I quickly scrammed on my way out when he held my arm.
“You’ll be there on my wedding day right?”
I awkwardly smiled. “Of course. Can’t miss that for the world.”
Ngumiti lang ulit ako at sumakay na sa kotse ko. I drove back to the shop and just sat at my office.
“He must have loved her a lot. Lucky girl. He loves her, tapos gusto pa siya ng family nila. Dati sakin, it was very complicated. Just because I’m not a nurse.. but somehow, pinili niya parin ako. That time though, everything was just complicated.”
Umuwi ako sa bahay to have dinner with my family. Miss na miss ko narin kasi yung nilaga.
“Mom, I’m hereeee!”
“Dinner’s ready. Pumasok ka dito.”
Nakaupo na silang lahat sa dining table. My mom, my dad, my sister Adelle, my little brother Mark. Complete ang pamilya!
“Oh, himala ata at walang date si Mark.” Biro ko sa kanila.
“Aba syempre, minsan ka lang din kaya nagtetext na dito ka kakain sa bahay! Eh sino ba uunahin ko? Yung pinagkakagastuhan ko, or yung gumagastos para sakin?”
Tumawa naman ang lahat. “Walangya ka talaga, Mark!” Banat naman ni Adelle.
“O tama na yan, kain na tayo. Umupo ka na, Mariel.” sabi naman ni Dad.
So umupo na ako, we prayed and ate dinner. It was just fun.. parang katulad lang nung college ako. Kumpleto kaming lahat. Walang hinahabol na mga schedules. Easy lang. Kwentuhan dito, kwentuhan doon. Then nung kami nalang naiwan ni Mama sa kitchen, she handed me something.
“Here. He visited us kaninang hapon.” She said at binigay sakin yung white envelope. I knew what that was.
“So, you’re invited pala.” I smiled. “Well, we should go.”
“Are you really going?”
“Oo naman. I’m their wedding coordinator. So I should be there.” Ngumiti ako kay Mama habang pinipigilan yung luha sa mata ko.
“Alam mo, okay lang naman sakin if sabihin mong, ayaw mo kaming pumunta dun.”
“Pero gusto ko nandun din kayo, Mom. Just in case, di ko kayanin. At least you’re there to keep me composed.”
“Well then, I guess magagamit ko na yung ginawa niyo saking dress.” She smiled. “Anak..” Niyakap niya ako. “Does it really really hurt?”
Then I just bursted out crying. “It does. It really does.”
“Well, you made your choice 3 years ago. You stood by it. Do what you think is the best for you.”
“Maybe, I’ll just have to accept all of this.” My mom just smiled and nodded.
After awhile, umuwi narin ako sa unit. Napaupo lang ako sa sofa and napatingin sa kawalan. Sobrang pinipigilan ko yung luha kong lumabas. Ayokong umiyak. Ayoko talaga.
[3 years ago]
“Goodmorning. Tita, andiyan po ba si Ralph? I keep on calling him, pero di na sumasagot yung number niya.”
His mom looked at me, annoyed.
“Bakit mo pa hinahanap? After what you did to him?”
“Tita, hindi naman po iyan rason. I need to talk to him now.”
“Sinayang mo lang lahat Mariel. You have hurt him.”
“But-” Mangiyak-ngiyak na talaga ako. I really wanna talk to him and tell him na hindi naman namen kailangan magpakasal agad. We can wait. He has to wait. We didn’t need to break up. He can work abroad and I’ll work here and we’ll wait for each other. Hindi naman kailangang maging complicated ang lahat. We didn’t need to choose.
“He’s gone. He went to the States yesterday.”
“WHAT?! N-n-no way.. h-h-he can’t. “
“I’m sorry Mariel. You had your chance and you blew it off.”
“But-but..” Hindi ko alam, all I remembered was that I cried.. I really cried so hard. I was sitting on their front gate and I was just crying like a little girl na iniwan ng mommy niya.
And we never saw each other again, until recently.
Friday na and tomorrow he’s gonna get married. Ayokong pumunta ng shop kasi nakakabaliw dun. Masyadong busy ang lahat. Tsaka baka pumunta dun sina Ralph. Medyo di ko talaga kayang humarap na di naiiyak.
6pm, after having dinner at Enrico’s, I drove around to calm my mind. It was 8pm and Clara said I should sleep early para pretty tomorrow. Sa tingin niya makakatulog kaya ako nito ng matino?
“Clar.. let’s go out.”
“Ano ka ba? We have work tomorrow. Magpahinga ka na..”
“You know I can’t.” I whispered sa phone.
“YOU HAVE TO. Akala ko ba ‘be professional’ yung motto dito?”
“Hindi ko kaya.”
“Don’t drink. Go home. Magdadrive ka pa din naman.”
“I won’t. I’ll go home now. Bye.” I looked at my phone’s screen and dialed Daniel’s number. He said he’s not sure if he could come. I just gave him the name of the place.
I think I started drinking at around 9pm at Hilton’s. At first, I was chatting up with the bartender pa.. and then.. blackout.
“I’m gonna get married tomorrow, Trish.”
“Oo nga eh. Alam mo, I like Ate Yel better. But sabi nga nila, mas sweeter if second time around na.”
“Syempre, nung second time mong magpropose.. syempre, umu-o. Eh dati nung first time kay Ate Yel, wala e. Bokya.”
“Kuya, akin nalang iyan..”
“Yung mga binigay sa iyo ni Ate Yel dati. Does Ate Kath knows about this na?”
“Hindi pa. Let’s keep it that way nalang.”
“Edi akin nalang iyan para walang ebidensya?”
“Ibabalik ko kay Mariel yan eh.”
“Sabi niya kasi, pag kinasal na ako, I have to return all these things.”
Patricia looked at me sadly. “No.” She whispered. “Ate Mariel once told me.. pag nagka boyfriend daw ako, I should return all the stuffs he gave me if ready na akong magmove-on.”
Napatigil ako at napatingin kay Tricia. Her tears were slowly falling one by one.
“Bukas ka palang magsisimula diba?”
I just kept silent and looked at the box.
“Hindi kita maintindihan. Why are you keeping it all to yourself? Bakit mo pinipilit ang sarili mo?”
“I love Kathleen. It’s a different kind of love compared to what I had with Mariel.”
“No problem. I’ll take care of this.” I smiled and hugged her. “Sige na, matulog ka na.”
Tumayo siya and slowly walked out of the room. “Kuya?”
“Marriage is a serious thing. Pag pinasok mo iyan, hindi ka na makakalabas.”
I took my phone and dialed Mariel’s number. It was ringing but no answer. I called up her unit, pero wala ding sumasagot. I dialed Clara’s number.
“Clar, are you with Yel?”
“No, she’s out, I think.”
“I don’t know. Wait, I’ll text a friend. Forward ko nalang sa iyo kaagad.”
After awhile, Clara texted.
– she’s out. hilton’s.
11PM. I went out of the house, drove my way to her unit. Pero it’s closed. I waited for like 15 minutes, but no Mariel showed up. I went to Hilton’s. I found her drunk and asleep on the bar’s counter.
“Sir, kasama mo ba iyan?”
“Yeah. Uhm, how much?”
“878 po sir.”
“Marami ba nainom niya?”
“Oo sir eh.”
“May nakwento ba?”
“Hinihintay niya daw si Daniel.”
“Yun lang ba?”
“Oo sir. Sir, kasama mo ba talaga iyan?”
“Girlfriend ko. May LQ kami e.” I gave him a thousand and told him to keep the change. Binuhat ko si Mariel palabas ng Hilton’s. Hindi naman talaga to lasengera o malakas uminom eh. Dati nung college, dalawang shot palang ata, natutumba na. Pano pa ngayon, ang daming nainom.
Nilagay ko sya sa kotse then I ran to her car to check if may important syang naiwan, wala naman. Nasa bag niya naman lahat. So I locked it and went back to my car. She was sleeping at pawis na pawis.
When I arrived at her building, nabigla yung guard. “Sir, okay lang ba si ma’am?”
“Napalakas ang inom.” I gave him my key. “Pakikuha naman po ng box sa kotse. Yung sa Fortuner na brown.”
“Sige po sir, ifafollow nalang po sa unit niya.”
Pagdating sa unit niya, nilagay ko sya sa kama niya. Iniwan naman kaagad ng guard yung susi ng kotse ko at yung box sa sala.
I took off her shoes and her jacket. Pinunasan ko narin yung mukha at leeg niya ng wet towel.
“Mukhang di ka makakapunta bukas ah. Masamang hangover to.” I smiled and held her face. “Siguro mas okay narin yun. Baka magbago pa isip ko.”
I stood up to prepare a honey drink para sa kanya bukas.. but suddenly, she held my hand. Her tears were flowing. She was in pain. And I stopped. She tugged my shirt at napaupo ako sa sahig.
“You know what, he’s gonna get married tomorrow.” Her words were slurred yet clear. She was in fetal position, her hand held onto my shirt and her left hand clutching on her white blanket.
“Aren’t you gonna stop him? Tanong ko sa kanya.
She smiled. “No.” She said in almost a whisper. “If.. if.. he’s not happy, I know he won’t do it.” Her eyes were half-closed and her face was wet with tears. For sure, her vision’s blurred. But she managed to smile – a sad smile though. “Daniel.. I looked for him three years ago.”
Napatigil ako at napatingin sa kanya. “3 years ago? Why?”
“I was supposed to ask him.. if we could wait for each other.. and get married someday..” She cried harder. “But-”
“Siguro.. nasaktan ko sya masyado.. cuz he left for abroad.. and we never saw each other again..” Napatingin lang ako sakanya. Hindi ko alam kung anong dapat kong sabihin o maramdaman. Paghihinayang? O contentment?
“But.. it was three years ago. I’m sure you’ve moved on. Right, Rielle?”
“Rielle…” She cried again. “He calls me that.” She smiled then she laughed. Napasandal ako sa kama niya at napatingin sa kisame. “Pano ka makakamove on? If all your life, you’ve imagined it with that someone? Alam mo yun? Yung parang..” I gently wiped her tears. “Yung parang.. lahat na.. lahat na ng plano mo kasama siya? Tapos.. tapos biglang ganun? Yung aalis sya bigla?”
“Pero diba.. okay ka naman?” Bigla akong napaluha habang nakatingin sa kanya.
She chuckled. “3 years diba? Daniel, diba 3 years? Tapos.. sobrang busy ko.. sobrang.. busy-busyhan ako para lang makalimutan siya.. tapos.. tapos..”
Humagulhol siya sa pag-iyak. “Magpapakasal pala..”
“If only.. if you’ll see their wedding tomorrow.. lahat akin yun e. Dapat akin yun.. yung gown.. yung flowers.. pati bisita parehong-pareho.. pero ayos lang.. kasi lahat ng yun mapapalitan.. pero.. pero yung groom, hinde..”
“Hindi ko kaya yun.. hinde ko kaya yun, Daniel..” Humagulhol siya ulet sa pag-iyak. Napasinghap ako ng hangin.
“He tried to forget you.. in three years. And then he met her. Alam mo yun, sa dalawang taon na yun, nakalimutan ka niya. Nakalimutan niya lahat. Pero sa pagtulog niya, ikaw parin yung nasa isip niya. Kahit-” Napatingin ako sa kanya. “Kahit.. kasama niya yung babaeng gusto niya, ikaw parin yung nakikita niya. Pero nakalimutan ka niya, sa dalawang taon na yun.” I smiled. “Pero sabi nga nila.. hindi mo malalaman kung mahal mo pa yung tao hangga’t hindi mo sila nakikita ulet.”
Bigla siyang natahimik and her tears were flowing. “Daniel-”
“When I saw you again.. my world stopped. Katulad lang nung 3rd year college ako. When I first you.. yung pinaghirapan ko sa tatlong taon na yun, biglang nawala.” Napaiyak na ako. “Ilang beses pumasok sa isipan ko na hindi ko itutuloy yung kasal.. pero.. alam kong mararamdaman niya.. dahil pinaramdam mo rin sakin yun Mariel.”
I held her hand. “Siguro tama ka.. tama yung sinabi mo noon. Hindi tayo para sa isa’t-isa.”